Portuguese and Real Madrid legend Luis Figo has said that countrymen Cristiano Ronaldo can win the Balon d’Or ahead of FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Messi is the hot favorite to clinch the Balon d’Or, having aided FC Barcelona to a treble last season and guided Argentina to the final of the Copa America. Team-mate Neymar is not expected to challenge him for the top honors for a footballer with the Brazilian overshadowed at both, club and country level by the Argentine’s achievements.

However, Portugal and Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award two years in a row, is once again expected to go head to head with Messi for the title.

Figo refuses to rule out Ronaldo winning Balon d’Or

cristiano ronaldo .

The Real Madrid star has received the backing of former Real and Barca winger Figo, who won the award back in 2000. The legendary winger was quoted saying by ESPN FC:

“They are three magnificent players. If the logic about how trophies go to winning teams prevails, the trophy will be for a Barcelona player. But if those who vote single out individual numbers, such as goals scored, Ronaldo could win.”

Ronaldo scored an astonishing 66 goals last season, beating Lionel Messi and Neymar, who scored 62 and 48 each. However, Messi has a lot more assists than Ronaldo.

Messi, Ronaldo on different level: Figo

Who will write the script for the El Clasico in his own name?

Messi, Ronaldo on different level to all other players as per Portugal legend Luis Figo.

The Portuguese and Real Madrid legend did go on to add that there were no players on the same level as the duo who have shared the last seven awards between them.

“I like very much [PSG’s Marco] Verrati, Neymar and Douglas Costa [Bayern Munich], but I think Ronaldo and Messi are a step ahead of everyone else,” he said.

Ronaldo has added 21 goals thus far this season to his tally of 66 from for club and country from the last season, while Messi, whose campaign has been marred by injury problem has scored 14 times this season, adding to his tally of 62.

It has been the other Balon d’Or nominee from FC Barcelona that has stepped up during Messi’s absence, with Neymar scoring 18 times this season, having found the back of the net 48 times last season.

The ceremony will be held in Zurich on Jan 11, 2016.